Filling the Gap

It’s that awkward time of year again where I try to fill in the gap between the end of the river season and the time to fish for the ‘summer’ species such as tench, rudd and bream. I’ve already decided where I’ll fish for these species, but I’m not going to flog away on those tough fisheries until the weather warms up a bit. In the meantime, I’m fishing some diverse places that hold big roach, amongst the other fish.

The first port of call was to a midlands day ticket lake that holds one or two roach over 3lbs, a number over 2lbs, plus stacks around a pound or more. My mate Martin and I both had a couple of trips in very cool but bright weather. Martin had visited the place a few times before over the years, landing many good roach up to just under 2lbs. This time the fishing proved a lot tougher.

The cold wind put sizeable waves on to the lake which made bite detection hard and accurate feeding almost impossible. We toughed it out though and eventually caught some nice fish.

On the first morning I thought I’d catch a shed full as my first couple of roach were well over the pound mark. Soon after the wind sprung up and I struggled for most of the day. All of the roach were in great condition though.

Every know and then I thought I’d caught a real specimen roach, only for those silver and orange flanks to have the backside of a bream attached!

At dusk, as the wind dropped, I landed loads of roach around the pound mark.

One of the main reasons for this was that I could finally fire casters around my float, instead of over half of the lake! ¬†Almost 30 big roach graced my net, but not the hoped for ‘2’ I know they were in the swim though, as I lost a real lump under my rod tip. I wasn’t too disheartened because it was hooked in the pelvic fin! It was a strange fight, like I was bringing in a big lump of wood or something. Then, as I pulled as hard as I dare, this great big roach surfaced, saw the net, and bolted. The size 20 hook pinged out straight away, but at least I knew they were out there.

The next day saw the wind blow just as strong, so I fished right under the rod tip on hemp. It took a while to get the fish feeding confidently, but when I did, some nice redfins graced my net.

I was catching in bursts, as if a couple of big roach charging around the swim would disturb the shoal, but a steady trickle of hemp would soon get them back again.

Again, I didn’t land the hoped for ‘2’, but I can’t turn my nose up at a handful of roach an ounce either side of 1lbs 8oz. They were lovely plump fish that scrapped hard.

I enjoyed myself so much, I’ll be back in the autumn, hopefully to catch one of the big old girls. For now though, I’m fishing for specimen roach much closer to home, from a tiny overlooked venue. At least until the tench wake up that is!


Canal Perch

It’s always tricky filling the gap between the river close season and the warmer weather when tench and the like being to feed properly. Sometimes I fish stillwaters for big roach, but I fancied a big canal perch this year. On my first trip out it was freezing cold and I just hoped for a bite. It was a surprise when my delkim signalled that my link legered lobworm had been taken. In the crystal clear water it looked like I was playing a good stripey to the net, but on landing it I realised it was very lean, tatty, and probably a very old fish.

It was good to be off the mark and later on I thought I was into a better perch. I was float fishing a lobworm on the near side shelf when, just as the light was fading, the float bobbed twice and then slipped away. I could tell what I’d hooked was the right weight, but unfortunately it turned out to be a hard fighting bream!

I thought the bream might be a bad omen because as the year progresses the canal comes alive with all kinds of fish. When it’s cool you tend to only catch big perch, which is obviously what i wanted to catch. I like catching most fish, but lobworms are expensive to feed to loads of roach, bream etc! My fears were confirmed on my next trip when I started getting lots of bites from all sorts. Roach x bream hybrids, roach, bream and small perch, all frustrated me and I realised it would be time to move on once I’d used my lobworm supply up.

I used a keepnet just in case a returned fish spooked any possible big perch that might be in the swim. Eventually I did hook what felt like a better perch and after a brief battle I was holding a decent fish that was now starting to get chunky around the midriff. I weighed this one and it was just on 3lbs.

It was not a monster by any means for this canal. I’d heard of a few other big ‘3’s getting caught that week so I was hopeful of more action. Sadly that was it for the day, but I’d give the place at least one more week. When I lifted the net out I realised I’d had a decent days fishing for a canal.

On my next trip I fished a different area, but only landed a couple of perch to just over a pound. I gave the place one last try as the weather was starting to pick up. In fact, I’d say nature was a couple of weeks in front of where we were this time last year, though that can soon change in spring.

On my next trip I landed everything from roach to flounder! I only managed some small perch, but had some cracking bream that were going on for 6lbs I’d say. The time to move on to other things was sealed when I started catching small eels. It had been a short and frustrating time on the canal, but I suppose it’s nice to be catching wild fish in the middle of nowhere. All kinds of wildlife was around, from buzzards and owls, to foxes and deer. Some deer even went for a swim in the next peg to me!

I’ll find a few more targets over the next couple of weeks, then it’s time for tench. I’m due a lump or more this year!